Air travel these days has become both cheap and convenient and often involves less planning that a long road trip. Although much more planning is required with new screening procedures at airports due to the anti-terrorism laws, by and large air travel with a disabled partner can still be an enjoyable experience. There is a plethora of difficulties that accompany the disabled as they attempt to fly in a commercial capacity these days but a conscientious travel partner can plan ahead and avoid any obstacles. When travelling with the incapacitated person, every effort must be made to provide a comfortable and facilitated journey to the patient. The incapacitated person is a passenger with the physical disability such as a neurological disorder or a medical condition, who is in need of attention or assistance, while take off, during the flight, and landing. Often all the Airlines offer necessary arrangements to the passenger, owing to the apparent special special request made by the family, the passenger himself, or by the medical authority at the time of booking.
Services offered by the Airport Authority
- The Airport Authority offers ramp wheelchairs for the passengers who can ascend or descend the steps and walk to the seat.
- The Airport Authority offers steps wheelchairs to the passengers who are unable to climb up and down the steps but are able to walk to the seat.
- A cabin seat wheelchair is offered to the patient who is completely immobile.
- Special assistance is also offered to blind and deaf passengers.
- Oxygen mask and cylinders are offered to the patients needing oxygen during flight.
- Special assistance is offered to the patients who have their left, right or both legs in cast.
- Such passengers are usually advised to pre-book the wheelchairs during the time of flight booking to avoid unnecessary last minute delay and non availability of wheelchairs.
Laws and Acts Associated With The Travel of a Disabled Person
It must be kept in mind that the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) advocates all the domestic and international flights over to the US destination and origination to provide certain accommodations, completely free of charge, to the incapacitated passengers and being the partner of a disabled person one must be able to understand and claim their rights as a passenger.
In addition to this, the airlines are also bounded by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) to provide services for the disabled individuals. As per this law the trained staff of the airport should be able to assist the disabled passenger and his attendant to get around the airport, handle the baggage, get on and off the plane, to get to and from the plane toilet. to open the packages and identify the food on the plane, and to deliver the safety instructions in a way that all the disabled passengers whether Deaf or Blind, must completely understand.
Airport Transfer and Handicap Parking
The first challenge is often simply getting into an airport and it is more grueling for people with disabilities. While the laws state that there must be a certain amount of handicapped parking available, it is quite often already in use and still can present a long walk from the parking garage to the terminal. If you are looking at an airport transfer, a conventional taxi may not do if your partner is wheelchair-bound.
Also, people travelling with the disabled must pre-inform the airport ahead of time, that he or she might require a stretcher, an electronic Wheelchair, or other devices with special batteries, or the requirement of a plug into the oxygen system during flight.
Handicap CheckPoints at the Airport
One of the difficulties in check-in is that while it might take an average healthy individual up to two hours to get through the checkpoints in the boarding line, a handicapped person going through that same line could take longer.
There are often more items that need to be checked because often a disabled individual will have metal objects like canes, braces and wheelchairs that set off the metal detectors. In addition, a large cache of medication may have to be checked and screened prior to boarding the plane. All of this can cause not only a loss of time but some amount of stress to both the disabled traveler and their partner. Thus, to ensure a seamless check in and boarding experience, the partner travelling with the handicapped individual must ensure to report to the check in counter at least 3 hours prior to the expected time of flight departure.
Oxygen Tanks and Medication for the Disabled Air Traveler
It is also good to remember that the TSA agents at the airport in the United States have to make sure the flights are safe and so therefore scrutinize everything and anything. If the disabled person need items like specific liquids or oxygen in order to sustain themselves, then these items will cause more of a delay in the check through lines.
It is possible to avoid much of this by putting such items in checked baggage but many people do not trust doing that and should that luggage be lost the disabled person’s health could be at risk in some cases. The best advice here is to make sure that everything you will be carrying on works and that you know how to make it function so that if the airport employees need to see it operate you can do so to prove that it is a functioning item.
Handicap Facilities in the Airport
It is also a good idea when trekking through an airport to keep in mind where the nearest restroom is because the last thing anyone wants is to be rushing around on a wheelchair in search of a toilet. Knowing the location of more than one restroom is useful especially if you are faced with an occupied stall where the occupant is taking longer than usual.
Air Travel With a Blind Partner
The requirements of travelling with a blind partner are different from those of a person with reduced mobility. Make sure to reach the airport at least 2 hours prior to the scheduled time of departure, which provides the cabin crew with enough time to explain all the necessary safety instructions and for you to ask any questions. Airlines also facilitate the accommodation of Guide dog in case of blind passengers.
On request, the airport staff will meet the disabled person and his companion upon arrival to the airport and assist in guiding to the check in, baggage check, and custom controls.
The member of staff will personally inform such passengers about the time of boarding, any other relevant information or delays of the airline. There are specially employed crew members to help board search individuals and to store any luggage in the overhead lockers. The blind passengers can even request the Airport Authority to repack the bags during the security search in a specific order that might help to locate essential items without any hassle.
Also, before the takeoff, the safety instructions will be demonstrated in a special format such braille and audio to the blind individuals. The cabin crew will even help to open the food packages and accompany to the washroom.